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City council to take up first reading of FY 2020 budget
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Tonight, Camden City Council will consider first reading of an ordinance adopting the city’s proposed operating and capital budget for Fiscal Year 2020, which begins July 1.

The ordinance calls for a 6 mil tax increase. According to language in the ordinance, the total millage levy for Camden will 103.1 mils, including 10.2 mils for road paving/resurfacing and 13.8 mils for the city’s Project Improvement Fund.

The balanced budget calls for a $10.714 million General Fund (4.41 percent increase from FY 2019), $34.795 million Utility Fund (4.82 percent increase), $1.1 million Local Tax Fund, and $857,400 Project Tax Fund. A “Budget in Brief” attached to the ordinance in tonight’s agenda packet indicates the Project Tax Fund is split between the Project Improvement and Paving funds at $488,700 and $368,700, respectively.

Along with the 6 mil tax increase, in the General Fund, revenues are expected to show a slight increase, operational expenditures are projected to be at or near current levels, but also include a 10 percent increase in commercial sanitation rates.

Money from the Paving Fund is projected to be spent on projects involving Rutledge Street and the west side of Walnut Street, as well as the second phase of the Sweet Gum Trail connecting Scott and Woodward parks.

Also up for first reading tonight is an ordinance being titled the “Fairness in Lodging Act.”

In it, the city acknowledges that it established a 1.5 percent local accommodations tax in 2002 and that “those who fail to collect and remit Accommodations Taxes and Sales Taxes in connection with accommodations provided to transients are competing unfairly against those who dutifully meet these obligations.”

During council’s April 9 meeting, Katherine Brown, who owns and operates Bloomsbury Inn with her husband, said during public forum that she was meeting her obligations while other bed and breakfasts in the city were not.

The ordinance would establish a notice of sales tax due that would be included with such residences’ annual property bill. It would list out a total of 12 percent in taxes as follows: state sales tax (5 percent), state accommodations tax (2 percent), county local accommodations tax (1.5 percent), city accommodations tax (1.5 percent), local option sales tax (1 percent) and local education capital improvement tax (1 percent).

Part of tonight’s Camden City Council meeting will be turned over to the Camden Historic Landmarks Commission (CHLC) for its annual presentation of preservation awards.

In line with tonight’s awards, council will consider a proclamation naming May as National Historic Preservation Month. It will also consider proclaiming May 12-20 as National Police Week, and May 18 as Kids to Parks Day.

Kids to Parks Day was organized and launched by the National Park Trust, and the proclamation urges families to take their children to a local, state or national park this Saturday, May 18.

Council will also take up second and final readings of an ordinance rezoning the former Beechwood property on Knights Hill Road from a planned development district (PDD) to a master planned development (MPD) district. The change to an MPD is made necessary by changes in state law since Beechwood was first designated a PDD. The change will smooth the way for the Health Services District of Kershaw County to build a new Karesh Long Term Care Center on the property.

Also up for second and final reading is an ordinance amending certain articles of the city’s zoning ordinance, and council will consider approving a Leader’s Legacy bench recognition for Julia Baxter Cloninger Halford.

Council will also enter executive session pursuant to S.C. Freedom of Information Act 30-4-70(a)(2):  “Discussion of negotiations incident to proposed contractual arrangements and proposed sale or purchase of property, the receipt of legal advice where the legal advice relates to a pending, threatened, or potential claim or other matters covered by the attorney-client privilege, settlement of legal claims, or the position of the public agency in other adversary situations involving the assertion against the agency of a claim.” Tonight’s proposed agenda specifically states “receipt of legal advice relating to contractual matters.”

Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. on the second floor of Camden City Hall, 1000 Lyttleton St., and is open to the public.